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Saturday, September 18, 2021

EPITAPH


                                                     Portrait by Victor Dragomiretchi


                                                                                        

 

Epitaph  

 

 

 

 

I liked to read Baudelaire,

And studied both ancient Roman and Viking ;

All were far more real to me

Than the majority who lived about me.

I sometimes dressed like an irregular

And read Martin Heidegger.

I detested respectability,

Which is why you probably never heard of me!  




Wednesday, September 15, 2021

PAYSAGE / LANDSCAPE FROM TABLEAUX PARISIENS - BAUDELAIRE


 


                                                                                   

LXXXVI. – PAYSAGE

 

Je veux, pour composer chastement mes églogues ,

Coucher auprès du ciel , comme les astrologues,

Et, voisin des clocher, écouter en révant

Leurs hymnes solennels emportés par le vent.

Les deux mains au menton, du haut de ma mansarde,

Je verrai l’atelier qui chante et qui bavarde ;

Les tuyaux, les clochers, ces mats de la cité ,

Et les grands ciel qui font réver d’éternité.

 

Il est doux, à travers les brumes, de voir naitre

L’étoile dans l’azur, la lampe à la fenêtre,

Les fleuves de charbon monter au firmament

Et la lune verser son pale enchantement.ûJe verrai les printemps, les étés, les automnes ;

Et quand viendra l’hiver aux neiges monotones,

Je fermerai partout  portières et volets

Pour bâtir dans la nuit mes féeriques palais.

Alors je rêverai des horizons bleuâtres,

Des jardins, des jets d’eaux pleurant dans les albâtres,

Des baisers, des oiseaux chantant soir et matin,

Et tout ce que l’Idylle a de plus enfantin.

L’Emeute, tempêtant vainement à ma vitre,

Ne fera pas lever mon front de mon pupitre ;

Car je serai plongé dans cette volupté

D’évoquer le Printemps avec ma volonté,

De tirer un soleil de mon cœur, et de faire

De mes pensers brûlants une tiède atmosphere.

 

 

LXXXVI. – LANDSCAPE

 

In order to compose chastely my eclogues, I want

To sleep under the sky, like the astrologers,

And, under the bells, dream

Upon the solemn hymns transported on the winds.

Up in the attic, with both hands under my chin,

Where I’d see in the atelier those who’d sing and talk ;

The pipes, the bells, those staples of the city,

And the great skies which make you dream of eternity.

 

Among the fog, it is only natural, to see come alive

The stars in the azure, the lamp at a window,

The rivers of coal smoke rising to greet the firmament

And the moon then versing its enchantment.

I’ll see the spring, summers and autumns ;

And when the winters come with their monotonous snow,

Everywhere I’ll close up the doors and the shutters

In order to construct my dreamy palace.

And then I will dream of bluer horizons,

Gardens, jets of water spurting from the alabaster,

Those kisses, the birds singing night and day,

And all that is idyllic and the most infantile.

Storms raving at my window

Will not force me to lift my head from my desk;

For I will be lost in that voluptuousness

Evoking the spring at my bidding,

Taking the sun from my heart, and making

My burning thoughts gently acclimatise.

 

 

What I love about this poem by Baudelaire is the completely unexpected innocence of it, situated particularly after the tumult of splenetic poems which completes the first section of Les Fleurs Du Mal, this poem, as the instigator of a completely new section of the book – Tableaux Parisiens – it allows us the readers, and no doubt the poet or author too, time to recalibrate and start anew. Remember, section II Tableaux Parisiens unlike section I, Spleen et Idéal, will be grounded in the real world, as it were, as opposed to the ideal projections which we encountered in the first section, and this is an aspect of Les Fleurs Du Mal which must really be taken into account. Baudelaire really is ahead of his time, predating phenomenology by over half a century, and yet what is the book but a complete phenomenological exploration of the human soul, in all its many diverse aspects. This is why Baudelaire needs to be continuously assessed as a poet, particularly today, as the almost two-dimensional image of him as the eternal poète maudit  simply does not stand up to scrutiny. Again, the ‘lazy’ reading which has become endemic of our times is all too easy and futile. Rather, when you engage with the book, over a series of readings which often take place at numerous times during your life ( typically youth, middle-age, and old age ) what one in fact finds, as with all canonical works, is that the truth of a work of art of the calibre of Les Fleurs Du Mal , rather like the author who composed it, is far more complex than one might have ever expected which is why Re-readings are so important. And of course, one could add to that, Re-translations – transversions! 

    

 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

LES AVEUGLES / THE BLIND BY BAUDELAIRE & INFLUENCE ON JAMES JOYCE IN ULYSSES




XCII. – LES AVEUGLES

 

 

Contemple-les, mon âme; ils sont vraiment affreux !

Pareils aux mannequins ; vaguement ridicules ;

Terribles, singuliers comme les somnambules ;

Dardant on ne sait où leurs globes ténébreux.

 

Leurs yeux, d’où la divine étincelle est partie,

Comme s’ils regardaient au loin, restent levés

Au ciel ; on ne les voit jamais vers les paves

Pencher rêveusement leur tête appesantie.

 

Ils traversent ainsi le noir illimité,

Ce frère du silence éternel. O cité !  

Pendant qu’autour de nous tu chantes, ris et beugles,

 

Eprise du Plaisir jusqu’a l’atrocité,

Vois ! je me traîne aussi ! mais, plus qu’eux hébété,

Je dis : Que cherchent-ils au Ciel, tous ces aveugles ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XCII. – THE BLIND

 

 

Look at them, my soul ; aren’t they awful !

Like mannequins ; slightly ridiculous ;

Terribly singular like somnambules,

Canes darting about in a darkened world.

 

Their eyes, where the divine spark is gone,

Since they look to the distance, remain raised

To the sky ; you never see them looking at the ground

Stooping almost dreamily their worn-down heads.

 

They cross unlimited space in this manner.

These brothers of the eternal silence. O city !

While everything about you sings, cries, laughs,

 

Addicted to pleasure to the point of atrocity,

See!  I trail behind also ! but, even more dazed then they,

I say : What do they look for in the Sky, all of those blind ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While translating the above poem Les Aveugles by Baudelaire, which appears in the Tableaux Parisiens section of Les Fluers Du Mals, I couldn’t help but think of James Joyce and in particular chapter 3 of Ulysses in which Stephen Dedalus apes the blind walking across Sandymount Strand.


Stephen closed his eyes to hear his boots crush crackling wrack and

Shells. You are walking through it howsomever. I am, a stride at a time. A

very short space of time through very short times of space. Five, six: the

Nacheinander. Exactly: and that is the ineluctable modality of the audible.

Open your eyes. No. Jesus! If I fell over a cliff that beetle o’er his base, fell

through the Nebeneinander ineluctably!   I am getting on nicely in the dark.

My ash sword hangs at my side. Tap with it, they do. My two feet in his boots

are at the end of his legs, nebeneinander. Sounds solid: made by the mallet

of Los demiurgos. Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount strand?

Crush, crack, crick, crick. Wild sea money. Dominie kens them a’.

 

Won’t you come to Sandymount,

Madeline the mare?[1]

 

What is really interesting about Joyce’s passage above is the reference to ‘nebeneinander’ which the Annotations to James Joyce’s Ulysses assure me is a reference to an essay published in 1766 by Gotthold Ephrain Lessing in an essay titled Laokoon oder über die Grenzen der Mahlerey und Poesie ( Laocoön, or On the Limits of Painting and Poetry) in which Lessing makes the case that each art has its limitations in terms of expression, painting, for example should concern itself with space, imagine a landscape painting by Claude Lorraine,  for example, in which perspective is so important, whereas literature is more temporal;  The Iliad attempts to tell the story of the famous battle in various stages of succession, for example. For Joyce such views must have appeared so antiquated, which is why we can see him joking at Lesssing’s expense, and to all traditionalists, in the passage above. Joyce was clearly inspired by Rimbaud’s famous cris de guerre calling on the systematic deregulation of the senses[2] ‘Le Poète se fait voyant par un long, immense et raisonné dérèglement de tous les sens.’ This is a really interesting line of enquiry in terms of Joyce scholarship, as this was to become in Finnegans Wake a whole area of exploration which Joyce in Ulysses is merely hinting at in comparison. Vico will take over from where Rimbaud got started, in terms of linguistic interplay on the sensory front, this is a whole area of research in itself, but suffice it to say that here in Baudelaire’s poem Les Aveugles we have a beginning or port of entry into the genesis of Dedalus’s game of blindman’s bluff, as it were!



[1] Joyce, James: Ulysses, Edited by Hans Walter Gabler With Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior Afterword by Michael Groden, The Bodley Head, London, 1993, p.31.   

[2] Rimbaud, Arthur: Rimbaud – Complete Works, Selected Letters, Translation, Introduction and Notes by Wallace Fowlie with the French Texts, The University of Chicago Press, 1966 ( First Edition), p.306. 


 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

A ce jour - par Yan Kouton with Transversion


 



                                                                               

A ce jour

 

Par

Yan Kouton

 

 

A ce jour

Pour venger

Leur vide

Ils agonisent

 

Comme un monde

Oú règne la violence

Le Coeur sec

Et les yeux éteints

 

Ou alors les yeux

Dans la mort de tout

Contre la profondeur

Du temps et des

Sentiments

 

Á ce jour

Leur nulle part

S’erige contre

L’ecriture et la ville

 

Celles que l’on creuse

Sans cesse pour oublier

Leur présence

 

 

On that Day

 

To avenge themselves

On their empty lives

On that day

They agonized

 

Like a world

Where only violence reigns

The heart dried

The eyes tired

 

Or worse

Dead to everything

Against the profundity of time

And all sentiments

 

On that day

Their Nothingness

Revolted up against

The unwritten laws of the city

 

Those which we had mined

Endlessly

In order to forget

Their presence

 

( Transversion Peter O’Neill, 2021)

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

FILM NOIRE


 


                                                                                    

 

Film Noire

“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.”

Raymond Chandler

 

For

Daniel Wade

 

 

John A. Maher, Private Detective, peered out

The window of the fourth floor of Lafayette,

His vantage point was on par with a Gargoyle!

The river split the city like a fissure, before him.

 

It was a city divided by accent and money.

On the northside, speech was contracted to the point

Of almost unintelligibility, which he liked

Never quite trusting language himself.

 

While on the south, it was all accent darling,

Barring the odd enclave. Maher moved through it all

Monosyllabic, stony-faced and with mild amusement.

 

Humans were weak creatures so prone to error.

And so some were driven to crime; one needed a hard fist,

Copious amounts of alcohol and a certain penchant for metaphysics.   




GOTHIC LANDSCAPE


 



                                                                                 

 

Gothic Landscape

 

 

Thought’s colour broodingly inks through to the skull,

Seeped to pour and stream into the brain.

The bridge is moored there through its anchor,

Above the liquified riverbed afflux.

 

The skeletal fragments of a backdrop,

Etched architecture of a Gothic replica.

Its organic structure today looms out of the fog

Which to the stoner is a mesmeric enterprise to induce Funk!

 

Through the viral air of a city masked,

Its denizens the very harbingers of their own Hell,

Introduces the notion of  Dantian comeuppance.

 

Tramping along on Bachelor’s Walk,

Crossing the widened Carlisle over Gandon’s hump,

Only to reach Eden the irony sits well.








Tuesday, September 7, 2021

HEIDEGGER'S DASEIN - NEW POEM FROM THE BRIDGE


 



                                                                                   

 

Heidegger’s Dasein

 

 

There is a philosophy born of storm to encompass Be-ing,

And it assails in the tumult of the unending assault of the days.

To storm troop on and over the assailment of the heavens;

God forbid, what is left of them those splintering fragments!

 

As in the woodwinds onrushing conducive to the Heart-fires

Still governing, just about, out from the holocaust of Thought.

Essence at the forefront of being, attuning to the tumult

Of the Sway, like anyone finding their ground.

 

Such as the down and outs rolled up in sleeping bags

On the public benches on the boardwalk,

Those pupae, or premature mummies,

 

Whose alarm clock would be police siren,

Heineken clock and other hallucinatory prey,

And whose breakfast would be coloured by the heady aroma of Hashish!